… Or how to make Google your best friend
Nowadays content creating is huge part of website developing, especially when it comes to organic traffic. Most probably you know that while writing an article you should follow some basic guide lines in order to achieve success, but there is also another part that requires your attention. In this article I will reveal some basics on how to properly optimize wordpress content and submit it to Google.
Optimize wordpress content – the basics
Let’s say that you have a dozen well written articles with unique ideas and you want to share them with the user over the Net. They are published on your blog, but looking at Google webmaster tools you see no visitors except you and perhaps a couple of friends that know your website. So, the question is how to inform Google that your website exists and offer great content? The following two plugins will help you improve the onpage SEO parameters of your website and also generate a sitemap, structured in accordance with Google requirements.
The first plugin I would like to talk about is Yoast SEO. Its purpose is to improve the stats of your content and help you write unique articles which appropriate metatags. Its installation is quite easy and can be done directly from the admin panel of your website. The settings however are more important, so I will explain the basic setup you can start with.
The best Yoast SEO settings
Immediately after the installation you will find a new SEO button on the left column of your WordPress dashboard. Click it and then go to General tab. Your Info and Webmaster Tools tabs are interesting, because you may set up alternative WordPress details and also verify the website at Google.
The next section Titles and Metas is very important, so I would advise you to check it carefully. General tab can be left intact because the default separator is good enough. On Homepage tab you can set up title and meta description for the home page which will help a lot because the default values may not be relevant to the content.
The next tab is Post Types and this is the place where you can set up titles and meta descriptions for all post types. These values will appear in the snippets unless you have custom definitions for each article. Note that titles and descriptions have recommended number of characters, so leaving them too long or short may give a negative effect to the onpage optimization. The very same settings apply for Taxonomies and Archives tabs. There is another tab named Other. The settings there are unchecked and this is good. You may check them if you have some specific reason to do so.
When titles and metas are set up per your needs, go back to the main menu and click Social. This is the place when you can set up the connections to the most used social circles such as Facebook, Twitter, Instragram, etc. These options are not essential at the moment, so if you do not have social accounts, it is OK to leave the settings blank.
XML Sitemap is another great feature offered by Yoast. You may set it up and then submit it to Google. The final result will be a new XML file that will give exact instructions to Google on how to crowl your website. As I personally prefer another plugin for that purpose I would advise you to keep the feature disabled. Later in this article I will explain how to generate sitemap using another plugin.
Right after XML Sitemap menu you will find another one called Advanced. You may use it to add some additional features to your theme if it does not support them. I am referring to Breadcrumbs, Permalinks and RSS feeds. Usually the themes support team, so you may safely skip these options.
The next menu item is Tools. In its subsections you will find useful options to edit large number of titles and descriptions, custom file editor, import and export option and recalculate SEO scores.
Search Console is developed to retrieve useful data directly from Google. You may set the connection up if you already have Google Authorization Code. If you do not have Google code, just register an account at Google and then proceed.
The last menu item is Extensions. It offer news, videos, local business tips and paid support. The activation of some of these features depends on your needs. There should be no problem to leave them disabled. Of course the premium version of the plugin offers a lot of additional features, but for now we will be focused on the free stuff.
How to submit your content to Google
When the content of your website is optimized on a local level, you are ready to inform Google about that. Of course you may skip this step and allow some time for the search engines to find your articles, but to speed up the process you have to generate a sitemap and submit it to Google. This is exactly what the next plugin I would like to review does.
Google XML Sitemaps – as the name suggests, this plugin is developed in order to generate an appropriate sitemap of your website and store it as a file. After that the file needs to be submitted as direct link to your Google account. The results will come a few days later. This depends on your region and how frequently the search engines visit it.
To install the plugin visit the admin panel of your website -> Plugins -> Add new and using the search field find Google XML Sitemaps. Then click install and activate the plugin. To find the plugin options just click Settings and then XML-Sitemap button. Here is screenshot that will help:
On the next page you will find a lot of options which we will review one by one. Basic options are set by default. The only value you may update is the memory. Depending on how much memory you are allowed to use, the value could be 96MB, 128MB, 256MB or 512MB, or at least these are the values that usually the shared hosting accounts support.
Post priority is important section. The selected value is being used for the priority to be calculated. The default option is based on comments counts and it is good enough.
Sitemap content includes the default post types. Depending on how your theme is structured you may add categories and author pages.
The next option can be used to exclude particular parts of your website. Uncategorized articles for instance can be removed from the sitemap. I have seen that even some product pages on large websites are excluded from XML.
Change frequency and priority sections need to be set up carefully. This is because the implemented login of the plugin is based on the fact that usually the newest content go to the home page, but if you have another page that is not being updated so regularly, you may unintentionally force Google to crowl the same content over and over again. In short, check your websites and theme feature and then add the highest priority to the page that you regularly update. This could be once a day or a few times a week.
At the bottom you have Update settings and Reset options button. If something goes wrong, you can easily revert the default values and start from the top. When done, your sitemap will be available at http://www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml and this is the URL you have to submit to Google Webmasters -> Sitemaps.